Math from "Fred's" Point of View
OK. You see the little boxed, geometric, little guy, well...his name is Fred. He is this little five year old math professor at Kittens University. He loves math and is great at it. This little guy became a part of my family two years ago, and since then I have looked at math differently. Math has always been "the" subject that has caused tears, frustration, and sometimes even a yell or two. I have four children, and three of them used a traditional math program. But when I got to the fourth child, he was very "untraditional". He thought outside of the box, and I did not know how to get him back into that box! Oh, how I wanted him to fit the mold of my other children. But after doing some research, I found "Fred." Let me take you on a short journey of how Fred has benefited us.
Outside of the box
You will find Fred in the books' titled The Life of Fred by Professor Stanely Schmidt. The author is a college math professor and has taken the math world by storm. He has presented math in such an amazing and literary way that you forget that you are doing it. Instead of the traditional way of doing math (you know the one hundred problems you had to do to make sure you were proficient), you are basically reading a small chapter of a great storyline about Fred who is experiencing life as a math professor at age five. At the end of each chapter, instead of there being a hundred problems to test your understanding, there is a "Your Turn to Play" that has a handful of math problems. But the problems are Fred's... and because you are connecting with the character you want to give the solutions to each one. You get so wrapped up in Fred's life that you are determined to help him. Small bits of information is presented in the text, and because it is so engaging, you remember that information as if it were a movie being replayed in your mind. Yes! This is definitely thinking outside of the box when it comes to math. But there is more...keep reading.
It's More than Math
The Life of Fred is definitely more than math. It is a series of unconventional books from kindergarten through college. Yes! You heard me...college. The books go above and beyond math. You will read about astronomy, history, science, economics, physics, grammar, vocabulary, and the subjects are endless. Your student will also increase in reading comprehension because you have to pay attention to what's going on in the story in order to do the Your Turn to Play. This is, to me, more than what I was expecting from a math book. Stanely Schmidt definitely has hit the nail on the head by combining these subjects into one.
The Life of Fred
Where to Start?
I said earlier that the books start from kindergarten and goes up to college level. There is an elementary set, an intermediate set, a high school set, and then finally a college set. The author claims that if you go through the entire series that your student can get a math degree...and you know what? I believe him. He has written these books in such a way that it really requires you to not only know math, but to also think about math in your everyday life. Instead of having these rote memorizations, you give more thought into why and how. And this is why I have decided to use this for my son. He is a thinker. He did not like memorization of formulas and math concepts; he needed to think, he needed to be engaged, he needed "Fred". So, where did I start my then sixth grader? I started him from the beginning. Even though the math concepts were simple, I wanted him to have a foundation, the storyline of Fred. Who wants to jump into the middle of a story? Not me, and not my son. So no matter where you are mathematically, I encourage you to start from the beginning and read. Don't just read...
Quality Time vs Quantity Time
enjoy Fred. Sit with your children and read aloud to them; they will love it. Reading aloud to your children is one of the best ways to build reading comprehension. Don't think of it as "math", but think of it as quality time with them...giving them golden nuggets of information that will last them a lifetime. Quantity of time doesn't mean quality time. It doesn't matter how long you spend or don't spend on it. What matters is that they understand the story. My son is now in eighth grade and I still read to him and you know what? He still listens. Of course that may change as he gets into high school. So, I am cherishing every moment now.
Making Room for Fred
I have home educated for 23 years and have collected so much curriculum that I could stock our public library. But when I came across The Life of Fred books, I gave curriculum away. Why? Well, because I have found the "pearl". Something that is so valuable to me that I had to make room for Fred on my shelves. I changed my "traditional" mindset and decided that this was the way I wanted to teach math and nothing else on the market appealed to me anymore. Fred was all we needed, and for me to say that, it must be true. The author, Stanely Schmidt, didn't stop there though. He has gone a step further, but I will get to that in my next hub page.